By Editorial Staff
Published March 1, 1989
WASHINGTON, D.C. (EP) – With his left hand on the same Bible that George Washington used during his swearing-in ceremony two centuries earlier, George Herbert Walker Bush took the oath of office and became the 41st president of the United States.
In a 20-minute inaugural address, Bush saw to it that his “first act as President is a prayer.” Asking the audience to bow their heads, Bush prayed, “Heavenly Father, we bow our heads and thank You for Your love. Accept our thanks for the peace that yields this day and the shared faith that makes its continuance likely. Make us strong to do Your work, willing to heed and hear Your will, and write on our hearts these words: ‘Use power to help people.’ For we are given power not to advance our own purposes nor to make a great show in the world, nor a name. There is but one just use of power and it is to serve people. Help us remember, Lord. Amen.”
Bush called for an abandonment of materialism and a return to spiritual values. “Are we enthralled with material things, less appreciative of the nobility of work and sacrifice?” he asked. “My friends, we are not the sum of our possessions. They are not the measure of our lives. In our hearts we know what matters. We cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank account. We must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend, a loving parent, a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood and town better than he found it.”
He insisted, “America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the nation, and gentler the face of the world.”
Bush touched on the abortion issue in his inaugural address, noting the plight of “young women… who are about to become mothers of children they can’t care for and might not love. They need our care, our guidance and our education, though we bless them for choosing life.”
Bush confidently noted, “I do not fear what is ahead. For our problems are large, but our heart is larger. Our challenges are great, but our will is greater. And if our flaws are endless, God’s love is truly boundless.”
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Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
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With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
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Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
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